NOTE: I wrote this as a continuation of an argument I was having with someone called 'Remnant', as it didn't seem appropriate to continue in on someone else's review board since it had little to do with the particular work we were originally reviewing. For interest's sake, the essay was 'Satanism: A Satanist's Guide' by Cthulu. Cthulu has two chapters up at the time of writing, and so far I've found it very interesting and informative.

Hedonism

'It is in his pleasure that a man really lives; it is from his leisure
that he constructs the true fabric of self.'
Agnes Repplier (1855 - 1950)

Hedonism is the theory that pleasure is the main good in the world, or, according to some Hedonists, the *only* good. It's a much maligned philosophy, as it tends to be assumed that to be a Hedonist necessarily involves indulging to excess in fleshly pleasures, which, I hope to show, is not the case. My argument with 'Remnant' was as follows:

Remnant-

'Umm...it seems you've stumbled upon hedonism, er, "Satanism." So you've had some kind of epiphany that indulging in your whims and needs brings fulfillment? Wow. I'm impressed. Join the crowd of druggies, Sado-masochism and domination sex freaks, child porn guys, pornstars, sex offenders, and other miscreants. They have the same philosophy. (If you ever do become fulfilled, please tell us. Maybe it will happen at that point when you're having sex and smoking crack simultaneously?) Pleasure is entirely ephemeral; it leaves you with absolutely nothing, except renewed desire to go seek more of it. That's not to say that some pleasure isn't good, or even healthy. But building a lifestyle upon pursuing it at all costs is simply foolish. What you're basically doing is titilating nerve endings or, if you're into drugs, chemically altering your mind. Why don't you just work out a schedule where you can have sex and smoke crack 24/7? So the goal is getting your brain to secrete pleasure-inducing chemicals? You're going to devote your life to that shit? Oh, and dude, the flesh can never be gratified. Talk to Wilt Chamberlain. He apparently had sex with 20,0 women over the course of his life. I wonder which woman he fulfilled his need in? Wow, what a noble undertaking.

How about devoting your life to helping those in need: the sick, the poor, the hungry. How about you leave behind your "hedonistic pipedreams" in favor of doing good. If you want real fulfillment, if you want to forge some kind of meaning out of life, THAT is where you should start.'

Tiefling-

'Please excuse me for a moment, but I feel the need to respond to one of your reviewers, 'Remnant'-

Satanism and Hedonism are not the same thing. Hedonism is part of the philosophy of Satanism, but there's more to it than that, and you can certainly be a Hedonist without being a Satanist.

I used to be a Hedonist myself (though my personal philosophy has now evolved into something else) There are different kinds of pleasure, not just the sensual ones. There is also the pleasure of say, learning something new, or the good feeling you get when you help someone. Also, any reasonably intelligent Hedonist can understand that overindulging in any particular pleasure, such as drugs, or sex, may lead to future pain, in the form of addiction, guilt, loss of liberty etc, and so they are able to moderate their behaviour like anyone else. Therefore do not stereotype Hedonists as 'druggies', porn stars, sex offenders and 'other miscreants'.

Remnant-

'Tiefling says, "There is also the pleasure of say, learning something new, or the good feeling you get when you help someone." Indeed there is. But how on earth is that hedonism? That's "philosophía" (love of wisdom) and altruism, respectively. Hedonism is defined as "Pursuit of or devotion to pleasure, especially to the pleasures of the senses." There's always been an inseparable denotation of hedonism with strictly sensuous pleasures, so pardon me for expressing it.

Teifling- "Therefore do not stereotype Hedonists as 'druggies', porn stars, sex offenders and 'other miscreants.'" I wasn't stereotyping as such. I was merely pointing out (correctly) that all of the above miscreants are, actually, hedonists.

And, I beseech you, answer me this: how is pleasure going to fulfill you? Name a single person that was fulfilled by pleasure. You can't. No one has been. They just continue to desire more and more in perpetuity. The desire is only aggravated, increased by pleasure.

Loving God, loving that which is good, and doing good, is the only possibility of finding meaning. All earthly endeavors will be, in the end, trivial.

As Solomon stated so long ago, he with 700 wives and access to any pleasure, "What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun...I have seen all the things that are done...all of them are meaningless, a chasing after the wind."'

If loving God is what makes Remnant happy, and feel that his life is meaningful, then let him do so and be happy. However, someone who doesn't believe in God doesn't really have that option- there's no point loving something that you don't think exists.

'I wasn't stereotyping as such. I was merely pointing out (correctly) that all of the above miscreants ['druggies', porn stars, and sex offenders] are, actually, hedonists. '

Some of those 'miscreants' might be hedonists, but certainly not all. There may well be porn stars that do what they do because they enjoy it, but I think that the majority of the female ones at least, are doing it solely for the money. This is certainly the case for certain people I have talked to who worked in the sex industry, though for obvious reasons I cannot reveal my sources.

'Sex offenders' is a very broad term, and encompasses many different people with different motivations. I don't pretend to be any kind of expert on the subject. However, it is my understanding that rape is less about sex than it is about power, so in some cases at least, a male rapist is less interested in his own physical pleasure than in hurting his victim, making him feel powerful and them feel powerless. This may give him pleasure, but it isn't physical pleasure. Other kinds of sex offender, such as pedophiles and zoophiles, might be suffering from a form of mental illness, and thus do what they do out of compulsion rather than desire.

Most people do drugs, initially at least, for pleasure, but some take them as a way to try and escape from things that happening in their lives, or out of peer pressure, or as part of a religious ceremony. Someone who began using an addictive drug for pleasure can become caught in a cycle of need, which is less about pleasure than avoidance of pain (though that, admittedly, is a hedonist tenet too).

Remnant wrote:

'There's always been an inseparable denotation of hedonism with strictly sensuous pleasures, so pardon me for expressing it.'

I have to disagree with Remnant on that. Philosophies which have been considered forms of Hedonism that are not, or at least not exclusively, about the quest for fleshly pleasures include Christian Hedonism, Utilitarianism, and Epicureanism. According to the Wikipedia- 'Christian Hedonism is a term for a theological movement promoted by several prominent church leaders of past and present; the tenets of which are that humans were created by God with the purpose of lavishly enjoying God through knowing, worshipping, and serving Him. Thus, this philosophy recommends passionately pursuing the face of God, and the delight of His heart, as the ultimate in human fulfillment.'* It sounds like something Remnant might like. Personally I had never thought of Utilitarianism as a form of Hedonism, but apparently it is sometimes classified as one because it ' judges the rightness of actions from the happiness that they lead to, and happiness is identified with pleasure.'* Utilitarianism is about creating the greatest happiness for the greatest number of people, whereas Epicureanism is about trying to make yourself happy. Epicureanism is the philosophy developed by the ancient Greek philosopher Epicurus (341-270 BC). For Epicurus, the greatest pleasure was to achieve tranquility and freedom from fear. He believed that this could be achieved by aquiring 'knowledge, friendship, and living a virtuous and temperate life.'* Though I am no longer an Epicurean myself, his philosophy makes a great deal of sense to me. Remnant wrote: 'Tiefling says, "There is also the pleasure of say, learning something new, or the good feeling you get when you help someone." Indeed there is. But how on earth is that hedonism?' Acquiring knowledge is indeed a pleasure, although not a fleshly one. I would rather be sitting here researching, composing and typing, than 'smoking crack and having sex at the same time' (I don't know about you but I don't like the idea of hot ash getting anywhere near my unmentionables), so seeking only fleshly pleasures would not be truly following hedonist beliefs for me because I would not be doing what gives me the most pleasure. Helping others also gives me, and many others pleasure, so it makes perfect sense for someone who seeks pleasure as the ultimate good to help others, provided it gives them more pleasure than it does pain. Being a Hedonist does not mean that you are unable to think about the long term consequences of your actions. It may be, and frequently is that case, that forgoing a particular immediate pleasure will bring more pleasure in the long term. For example, my husband and I could stay at home and have sex all day instead of going to work, but by doing so we'd probably lose our jobs, be unable to pay the rent, and lose the future pleasure of sleeping indoors. I could spend all my savings on chocolate and gorge myself until I'm sick, but in doing so I would forgo future pleasures that would come with doing something more sensible with the money. I'd also probably put on weight, which would cause me emotional pain. For this reason, living as a Hedonist can involve a degree of temperence. Remnant wrote: 'And, I beseech you, answer me this: how is pleasure going to fulfill you? Name a single person that was fulfilled by pleasure. You can't. No one has been. They just continue to desire more and more in perpetuity. The desire is only aggravated, increased by pleasure.' I'm afraid I can't give Remnant a meaningful answer on that one. If I were to give an example of someone who says they are fulfilled by seeking their own pleasure Remnant can just say 'no they're not'. Inner fulfilment isn't something you can prove. If Remnant feels that he (or she) is personally fulfilled by Christianity, that's great. I can't, and wouldn't try to, prove him (her?) wrong about that. I just wanted to clear up a few points about Hedonism, which I hope I have done.
'I can think of nothing less pleasurable than a lifetime devoted to
pleasure' John D. Rockefeller

Sources:

www. Quotationspage. com

*http/ en. wikipedia wiki/hedonism (spaces inserted so fpcom wouldn't take out the link)

Introduction To Philosophy- Classical and Contemporary Readings, ed. Perry, John, and Bratman, Michael, 2nd edition, Oxford University Press, 1993